Phoenix — Until quarterback Lamar Jackson’s status is settled, decision-makers for most of the league’s 32 teams are going to field questions about whether they have interest in the 26-year-old, dynamic dual-threat who was named MVP in 2019.
Unable to come to terms on a new deal with the Baltimore Ravens, the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2018 draft, Jackson announced Monday he had requested a trade earlier in the month. And while it’s still possible those fences will be mended, until they officially are, speculation will run wild about where Jackson could end up.
But if it wasn’t clear before, it’s probably time to cross Detroit off the list. A day after general manager Brad Holmes declined to comment specifically on Jackson, coach Dan Campbell dismissed the possibility of his team pursuing a deal with Baltimore.
“Look, Lamar is a heck of a talent,” Campbell said Tuesday at the league meetings. “Trying to defend that guy has been something else. We played them two years ago. But, man, we got a quarterback. So, I’m like, ‘We got a quarterback and thank God we got one.’ And, so, we’re good. But, man, he’s a heck of a talent.”
Lions quarterback Jared Goff is coming off one of his best seasons, two years after the Lions acquired the former No. 1 pick in a trade from the Los Angeles Rams. In 2022, he ranked in the top 10 in most passing categories, including a 99.3 passer rating.
And while there’s an easy argument to be made that Jackson would be an upgrade, it dismisses the significant financial ramifications of such a move, which would include sending multiple, high-level draft assets to the Ravens, eating $15 million in dead money still owed to Goff after a $5 million roster bonus hit this month, and, most importantly, finding the cap space to pay Jackson the reported $45-50 million per season he’s seeking.
But while Jackson might not be in the cards for the Lions, Campbell wasn’t as quick to dismiss the possibility of selecting a quarterback early in the draft, one who could presumably challenge Goff down the road.
“This year, as with most, you’re always looking to upgrade,” Campbell said. “And free agency has given us the ability in areas to, man, we can do whatever we need to do in the draft. We feel pretty good about that. We don’t feel forced to do anything — ‘You got to take this.’ And so with that, I would say, man, it doesn’t matter what the position is, if we can upgrade our team top to bottom, we will do that.”